Ethan Lindenberger was never vaccinated until a few months ago when he turned 18. That’s because his mother is an anti-vaxxer and straight up wouldn’t allow it, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends it. So when Lindenberger became an adult, he made it a priority and is now all caught up.
On Tuesday, the high school senior from Ohio took his rebellion one step further by slamming his mother’s beliefs in testimony he gave in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pension.
Lindenberger told the senators, “I went my entire life without numerous vaccines against diseases such as measles, chickenpox or even polio. I grew up understanding my mother’s beliefs that vaccines are dangerous.”
“My mother would turn to anti-vaccine groups online and on social media looking for her evidence and defense,” he continued, but noted that he’s certain his mother’s fears were rooted in love—she didn’t want her kids to get autism. (Of course, there’s absolutely no proof that there’s any connection between vaccines and autism, as a report published Tuesday showed yet again.)
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It’s crazy to think I’m a senior, and looking back to my first year of high school I’m reminded of all the changes And events God has used to shape me along the way. The knowledge and experiences, although some being painful at the time, have shown me that Jesus comes first above all. Gotta rock that contemporary Christian haircut and button down shirt, but hey, it works
The congressional hearing, called “Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks,” was formed in response to this year’s sudden rise in cases of preventable viruses (measles, mainly. Since the beginning of 2019, 206 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S., according to CNN. More than 70 people, mostly kids, have contracted measles in the Pacific Northwest alone; Washington, like Ohio, permits parents to decide not to vaccinate their children.
Lindenberger realized there was no real argument against vaccines when he joined his school debate team, Vice reports. He showed his mom the proof and tried to convince her to let him get vaccinated, but she still wasn’t having it.
When he turned 18, Lindenberger posted on Reddit asking how he could go about getting vaccinated, if it was even okay to do at his age (it is). He wrote, “My parents think vaccines are some kind of government scheme. … I’ve never been vaccinated for anything, god knows how I’m still alive.”
Lindenberger and his parents still don’t agree on the issue of vaccines, but they respect his decisions. Speaking to CNN’s John Berman in February, Lindenberger said, “I was doing it for my safety and the safety of others. My parents are very happy that I’m continuing to express that the importance of a vaccine is beyond just me and other people, and I’m glad to share that story.”
Here’s a video Lindenberger posted to YouTube on Saturday where he talks about his story and the then-upcoming testimony.
Way to fight the good fight!